Coming Out of the Mental Health Closet

This blog has always been about my journey in the primal lifestyle. I created it as a way to share my experiences of eating an ancestral diet, fitness, nutritional therapy training, but most of all trying to balance my brain. I have always struggled with being manic depressive. Chemical imbalances run through my family like brown hair does. I feel like a lot of people will relate with me here, but we have so much shame about mental illness and so much judgment about the treatment of it that very few people in the Paleo community will talk about it without condemning others’ choices on how to handle it. Those of us who face it stay in the closet for fear of being ostracized.

This is me being the voice for those of you who haven’t found yours yet, but I know you will in your own time. Maybe I’ll lose credibility, but honestly I think that those of you who need to hear this will embrace my story and support me through this. Two years ago, I was white knuckling it. I’d been Paleo for a year. My hormones were a disaster and with the help of Robb Wolf and his super podcast I got those straightened out, but my mood swings were only getting worse and my emotional turmoil was spiraling. I was going through intensive therapy that was helping me but the chemical ups and downs were blocking my growth. I tried to Paleo harder. I went very low carb. I did sugar detoxes that helped at least temporarily but didn’t offer long term solutions. I had shame that I wasn’t doing this lifestyle right. Because if I was, I wouldn’t be such an emotional wreck.

Like many others, I had a difficult childhood. Without coping skills, at 11 years old I developed a phobia of choking which turned into anorexia. At 15 I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol, using those until I became a serious drug addict by the age of 21. All mechanisms to avoid hurt and have some control over a young girl’s life that was complete chaos. I found myself in recovery and while I easily got clean, for the first time I was feeling the disgusting pain of my life. I don’t even know if there was one shred of light inside of me. I had a successful radio career with a well-known morning show on a popular station. But I spent most of my time fantasizing about suicide and escaping pain through caffeine, unhealthy food, cigarettes, and men. During that first sober year I was wrongly diagnosed by a psychiatrist and put on medication that only created a dependency on more drugs and caused me to be manic for two years straight.

When I got pregnant with my first daughter, I weaned off the meds and vowed to never use medication for my mental wellbeing again. Fortunately through my pregnancies and years of breastfeeding I found stability, but as soon as I wasn’t pregnant or nursing I couldn’t cope. I’ve always been high functioning, putting on the pretty face that I had my sh*t together. It was never hard for me to fake it because I was such a perfectionist that I spent my life trying to make people think I was…well…perfect.

Then I went to a family reunion. I got triggered by old, old, old abandonment that courses through my veins thicker than the blood inside of them. I was correctly diagnosed at that time and had an understanding therapist who supported my stance on using medication. She was trying very hard to help me cope without it. After the family reunion I came home suicidal. For the first time in a while and I knew that I could not live this way anymore. My children deserved better, my husband deserved better, and most of all—dammit!—I deserved better.

I made an appointment with a psychiatrist who turned out to be the most gentle, supportive man I could have ever asked for. He listened to my concerns. He nurtured me in a way I didn’t expect. He told me the story about Ted Turner in Atlanta who owns the Braves and all those tv stations and his journey through mental illness and finding success after he got medicated. I felt hope for the first time…maybe ever. The doctor found the right medication for me and I’m not exaggerating when I say, by the next day, my life changed. There were no side effects, I was still me, I wasn’t addicted to the pills, I could actually do the work on my emotions without the chemical stuff holding me back. My husband fell in love with me all over again because he could finally see who I really might be. I started healing relationships with people I didn’t think possible.

I learned to love myself. Through this journey I let go of control, jealousy, attachment, and I found freedom. I worked really hard. I’m not giving the medication all the credit here, but it certainly deserves some of it. I do not believe that being medicated is right for everyone, but I am tired of the judgment in this community about it.

I’ve made it a point to tell more people my “secret” lately as I’ve preached to y’all that shame can’t live in the dark. It’s definitely not a secret now and I’m proud of it actually. The beautiful thing is, lots of people in this community are going through exactly the same thing and once I got brave enough to share with them what I was going through they said they were going through it too. I want to empower you to be who you truly are and I want you to make choices that are right for you and not based off the judgments of others. I want you to heal and live a joyful, fulfilling, and balanced life.

4 thoughts on “Coming Out of the Mental Health Closet

  1. I just want to climb thru my computer and give you a GREAT BIG HUG! Cheers to you for letting the shame go and just being authentic! There will always be those who judge and hate others for various reasons… Ignore them. Hold your head high… Look to the sun and soak up it’s warmth, share your journey. We’ll be there to support you!

  2. It is great to be open with this and allow the other side to be discussed and appreciated. In our effort to promote real health, real food, returning to basics to take care of ourselves we sometimes forget that modern medicine, although flawed is not altogether wrong or without resources that are of use to us. I never encourage medications for the sake of masking an issue or relieving stress, but there is a time and a place for chemical interventions. Maybe one day we will figure how to treat the more extreme swings people go through in other ways, but until that point we cannot nor should not make people feel that seeing help in that form is wrong.

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